10 years ago I released We Are The Strange

2007 while working on We Are The Strange

Ten years ago I released a crazy little movie I made mostly on my own- it had sets made out of old socks and Elmer's glue- it had characters made out of torn latex gloves or crumpled paper- the main characters head was a doll head I found in the gutter in my neighborhood-

I never went to school for film or animation- I was just some unknown savage making films and animation any way I could- I knew my creations were far from perfect but they were sincere- and that sincerity is what helped me go on and create two more films- + many other works-

One of the things I'm most proud of in regard to my films and We Are The Strange specifically as it was the only one that made a "splash" in the world of film-

"Indie" filmmaking in the U.S. is a rich kids game- its the rich kids that can afford to go to some fancy film school- its the rich kids who through their familial connections get into film festivals/get funding/get press- its only the rich kids that can afford to not work and only work on their films and travel around the world going to workshops etc

We Are The Strange got into the Sundance Film Festival based on its own merit- not because I was rich or famous or connected- I am a nobody from nowhere and I don't know anyone-

When We Are The Strange won a gold and silver prize at the Fantasia Film Festival it beat films with budgets 100-1000x bigger than mine-

In short I kicked the shit out all the rich kids in "indie" film at the time and I'm still really proud of that ^_^

It showed me and others as well hopefully that its NOT EASY but if you have the right mix of creativity, passion, ingenuity, and ambition that you can defy the odds and beat those that have much higher budgets + nepotism, cronyism on their side-

Film/art/animation is really only reserved for the wealthy in the U.S. as they are the only ones who can afford to partake at a high level- At film events I attended I would often find myself around these pampered wimps- I couldn't relate to them and they couldn't relate to me-


While I was planning/working on We Are The Strange I had people around me telling me it was too ambitious- some of them were professionals in film related fields- they tried to convince me to do something smaller- something less ambitious- they tried to place their own limitations on me- they tried to slow me down- they tried to limit my ambition-

Even after I finished it- I had "professionals" around me chastising me for making something so different- those fools could only see the short amount of pavement in front of them, they mostly focused on what had been done in the past- they were not forward looking, they were only out for a paycheck-

Long story short- it was only because I tried and succeeded at creating something crazy and ambitious that you know who I am most likely-


The reason I'm bringing this back up is because in Jan 2014, right after I completed my third feature film "I am Nightmare" I decided to quit making films and focus on game development instead- partly out of boredom- partly out of the dead-end being a real independent filmmaker is in the U.S. when you're not rich/connected-

Its now 3 years past- In those 3 years I've made several small game projects that you can find here

When I started I knew absolutely nothing about programming so I relied heavily on visual scripting tools like the awesome Playmaker - now 3 years later I still use Playmaker but I prefer to code my own custom solutions whenever I can-

Here's my growing github repo here- I'll be sharing more of my custom actions/scripts etc in the coming year-

In these past 3 years I studied game design/programming just like I studied film/animation on my own- I've read all the books I can get my hands on- I watch all the tutorials I can- I watch all the GDC presentations I can- and most importantly I made little games- on each little game project I used it to focus on a certain aspect of game development- I'm not claiming to have mastered anything- not even close BUT I learned A LOT-


The interesting thing is that some of my experiences with people around me in this 3 year span mirror some of the experiences I had making We Are The Strange- I've had people try to slow me down- placing their own limitations on me- trying to get me to be less ambitious with my big project specifically-

I will be announcing/showing off my first big game this year so for me it feels like a rebirth- Ten years after making We Are The Strange I will be reborn as a game developer-


A note about that- back in 2007 when you got a feature film in the Sundance Film Festival they gave you a nice custom Burton snow jacket- I stopped wearing it years ago but I still had it stuffed away in a closet- it felt to me like the last vestige of my filmmaking career-

A few weeks ago I was dropping off a computer I had fixed for my old friend, the genius composer and musician Endika- as I was leaving his place I saw a homeless guy on the corner in a T-shirt shivering as it was really cold that night- it was sad- he was trying to use a large plastic bag as a blanket to keep himself warm-

As I walked past him I made eye contact with him and said hello- his eyes had a panic in them- his eyes had that "please help me" look- I said hello to him and he just said "its freezing"-

I wanted to help him and I felt like I had to get rid of that last remnant of my filmmaking self- So I rode my bike home and got the jacket out of the closet- I rode back over there and gave it to him-

I was happy to help a person in need and I felt like a weight had been lifted from me- I had finally let go of this "filmmaker" identity- I know there's people out there that like my films and might be disappointed to learn that I won't make any more films and I'm sorry about that-

BUT I feel like working in this interactive space like I am now with these new skills- it feels like THIS is what I'm supposed to be doing- the world felt closed to me when I was just a "filmmaker"- now that I'm a game developer and know how to code the world feels wide open-

I know I haven't made an impressive game yet BUT that will change very soon- I'm being ambitious as usual and I'm going to pull off some crazy shit ^_^

Right now I'm finished the level design for the first level- all the mechanics/code is done and 16 enemy types have already been made/tested-

So from this point on its mostly level design/modeling + enemy modeling/animation/ai- here's a screencap of part of the first level in progress- nothing exciting, I know- but its something haha

The game is a 3d platformer- its exploration/action based with a tiny touch of rpg elements- I'm not making the typical game made by a filmmaker/storyteller- it has a narrative BUT I focused on the gameplay- someone else with my background would make "adventure" games- they would lean on their strengths- I'm doing the opposite-

I'm focusing on making my weak points stronger- gameplay/coding as I know the art/narrative/atmosphere will be there regardless as I can create that stuff effortlessly at this point in my career-

I must add- I FUCKING LOVE CODING 0_0 Its so FUN and exciting- if you're interested in learning for making games and the like- Grab Unity and Visual Studio and go through all the tutorials on the Unity site-

I think ALL creative people who use digital tools should learn to code as you can MAKE YOUR OWN TOOLS-

Also if you bought and held Bitcoin when I was raving about it here in 2013 enjoy your all time high- I don't know if I mentioned Ethereum back when they did their crowdsale but if you got in on that and hold Eth- pretty cool eh? ^_^

On that note I found Bitcoin and Ethereum libraries for C# 0_0 I'd guess in the coming years I'll start making my own applications as well- BUT FOR NOW, AWESOME GAME IS #1 GOAL!

ALSO my wife and I started work on a new DOTTIR album if you were into that.

So in the future expect games, music, tutorials,  interactive experiments and eventually applications from me-

Well thats it for my Saturday night blog post- I'm back to work-